The Brits Bring “Colour” and Knowledge to America


“It takes 70 muscles to say one word.”

          Barely noticeable, that line sits atop the electronic bar code on the cover of the inaugural issue of Knowledge Magazine – a forewarning of how committed the magazine is to cramming as much information as possible into its 100 glossy pages.

         Knowledge – written with an inverted question mark in place of a “g” – appears to suffer from an identity crisis at first glance.  It is the first American title launched by BBC Worldwide; drawing its content from other BBC publications such as History, Wildlife, and Focus magazines.

          As a result, features bump shoulders with such disparate topics as Nazi criminals in the Nuremberg Trials, the formation of planets in distant solar systems, and cheetahs in the Kenyan savannah.  Of course, as a science geek, history buff, and wildlife junkie, I’m not complaining.

          Knowledge editor Sally Palmer, former deputy editor of the popular science and technology magazine Focus, describes her magazine as “a feast of information for the curious mind.”  

          A feast it is, but perhaps more so for the eye than the mind.

          Palmer and her team say they’ve done their research and have come up with a bi-monthly literary venue that tailors BBC-quality reporting to an American audience.  Judging from this issue, I suspect they concluded Americans enjoy one thing above all else: pictures, pictures, and lots of pictures!

          Panoramic images that stretch 17 inches across make Knowledge the IMAX of magazines.  The Snapshots section features a tiny frog in the clutches of a carnivorous plant and a room full of noodles.  I never thought noodles could be so visually stimulating.

          As for those New Worlders who might feel that the stuffy, ultra-intellectual air of the British is beyond them, Knowledge is teeming with American-friendly content – save the occasional quaint spellings like “programmes”, “centre” and “favour.”  

          Subjects are so well known and easily digestible that science geeks, history buffs, and wildlife junkies – like me – might dub it Common Knowledge.


by Cristina Luiggi


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